Career Advancement Guide: Growth Tips to Achieve Your Goals

Written by Coursera • Updated on

Use these tips, strategies, and resources as you work toward advancing your career.

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When you entered the current phase of your career, you may have had one particular goal in mind. Maybe it was to secure a certain position, work at a specific company, or get experience in a new field or industry. Regardless of the goal, at various points in your journey, you may realize you’re ready to further your growth. So, what then?

If you’ve reached this point, you may be ready for career advancement. Career advancement is generally characterized by upward movement toward your career goals, and it can take many forms.

In this article, we’ll discuss what career advancement is and how you can work toward the type of progress that aligns with your goals. We’ll be linking out to additional resources that you can use to help guide your path toward progress. Bookmark this page to refer back to these resources throughout your journey.

What is career advancement?

In the broadest sense, career advancement is progression to the next level of your career. This type of progress may come with an enhanced job title, increased responsibilities, expanded skill sets, and a greater salary. For individuals motivated by growth, pursuing career advancement can improve job satisfaction, open new opportunities, and illuminate continued learning pathways.

Career advancement will mean different things to different people. To specify what career advancement looks like for you, it’ll be important to know your values and goals. Some examples of what career advancement might look like are:

  • Getting a promotion

  • Moving into a new department or field

  • Expanding your job responsibilities

How to advance your career

Even if a new job isn’t your specific goal, advancing your career can feel like starting a new position along your desired career path. So the approach to advancing your career will often be similar to the job search process.

The basic steps will be:

  1. Determine your career goals.

  2. Plan your desired advancement path.

  3. Work toward growth.

  4. Pursue new opportunities.

Let’s take a closer look at each advancement stage.

Read more: Job Search Guide: Resources for Your Next Career Move



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Determining your career goals

Before you work toward career advancement, it’ll be important to know what type of career advancement aligns with your wants and needs. This way, you can make sure you are working toward an end state that fits your desired lifestyle. In determining your career goals, you can create guideposts for yourself as you work toward progress. 

Keep in mind that career goals, like most goals, tend to be cyclical. In achieving one goal, you may come to recognize a new goal. Remember to keep checking in with yourself as you reach new milestones.

Planning your career advancement

Once you have clarity on your goals, you’ll be more prepared to map your path toward achieving them. In this stage of your career advancement journey, you may find it helpful to compare your current state to your ideal future state.

Read job listings for positions or companies you’d like to work for and talk to people currently doing the work you hope to do. Take note of your current skill gaps or discrepancies, as these will likely be areas that you can focus on building and reinforcing to prepare for the upcoming growth stage.



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Working toward career growth

This next stage is when you really start engaging with your goals and working in a way that demonstrates your preparedness to advance. As you work toward growth, you may expand and hone your skills, earn a new credential, take on a project, or seek networking opportunities.

Depending on your goals and your relationship with your current manager, this may be a good time to talk about your desire for advancement. Knowing what you’re working toward, your manager may help you find growth opportunities within your current role’s scope or offer advice on what you can do to qualify for advancement within your company or field.

Having your manager as an ally in your development can enable you to effectively plan for your future, as well as plant the seeds for the next stage when you pursue advancement opportunities.

Pursuing advancement opportunities

Oftentimes, it’s not enough to work toward growth; you need to ask for the results you want to achieve. Actively pursuing advancement opportunities signals to the people with the power to make decisions about your career progress that you are interested and ready to move into the next phase of your career.

Whether you’re demonstrating your preparedness to your manager, another department lead, or a hiring manager, you’ll likely need to seek out and offer proof of your growth and effectiveness before you’re given new opportunities. During this time, keep an eye on internal and external job openings, apply for jobs, stay in touch with key contacts, maintain an updated resume and cover letter, and prepare for interviews.



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Overcoming growth obstacles

Career advancement takes time and effort, and progress isn’t always linear. Since certain aspects of your advancement aren’t entirely in your control, you may need to overcome some obstacles or shift your plans along the way. During those times, you may want to seek additional sources of motivation guided by self-improvement or an expert, such as a mentor, career coach, or career counselor.

Keep learning

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Written by Coursera • Updated on

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